Before June 1st, the online poker world had a perpetual Damocles’ sword hanging above, the unknown about what would follow the full enactment of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) a threat tossed into a back room but never forgotten about. Politicians and organizations representing the interests of poker players had done everything they could, yet the inevitable continued to draw near. Apparently, there wasn’t anything one could do but to accept the role of spectator and hope for the best. Now, one month after the fateful day, it is high-time we took a look back at how the UIGEA has made its effects on the online poker community.
As far as player numbers are concerned, the infamous law doesn’t seem to have made any sort of an impact. According to the PPA (Poker Players’ Alliance), player numbers have stayed steady as the deadline passed, and there are at least as many Americans playing online poker these days as there were before June 1st. What exactly does this mean as far as the UIGEA’s restrictions are concerned? It means that players had already made adjustments well before the “dreaded” deadline. I remember that when president Bush signed the bill into a law, there was widespread panic in online poker and online gambling circles. Players made all the moves they deemed necessary then, thus the June 1st deadline didn’t really present them with any new challenges. E-wallets were the preferred payment method chosen by poker players, because the UIGEA only affected payments made to online poker sites and funds received from such sources. The e-wallet acts as a buffer between the true source of the funds and the recipients, so transferring money to and from any of these e-wallets is still perfectly legal.
The PPA has apparently asked players to communicate any UIGEA-related money transfer problems to them, and so far very few such complaints were logged, which means players do not encounter out of the ordinary problems when going about their online poker related financial matters.
The interesting – and in a way ironic – this about the UIGEA is that its provisions failed to even slow online poker down, while they seriously disrupted online horse racing operations, which were exempted from under the said restrictions. Poker sites have adjusted together with the poker players, so by the time the UIGEA came into full effect, the online poker world had already adapted to a post-UIGEA environment. Online horse racing sites, apparently not threatened by the law, saw no need to adopt similarly radical measures concerning their funds transfer systems. The fact that the UIGEA has pretty much killed all credit card deposits therefore hurt them the most.
Meanwhile, the offensive to repeal the UIGEA continues. The PPA and various other political entities involved in the battle are already planning their next move: they intend to bring to attention the way the UIGEA has failed to achieve what it was supposed to, and to once again come up with alternatives which are based on the repealing of the obviously ineffective (and quite possibly unconstitutional) piece of legislation.
July seems the be the month for action for the PPA. The organization is requesting donations for the renewed offensive, donations which can be made at their website.